April 25, 2014 |
LANCASTER - Amish buggies and all-you-can-eat buffets. Those are the images that have long defined Lancaster County for most outsiders - with the added bonus of outlet shopping. And there is ample truth to feed the cliches along the tourist honky-tonk of Lincoln Highway, where faux windmills spin over signs touting shoofly pies, and seniors come by the busload to gorge on bargain smorgasbords of brown-buttered noodles, gloppy gravy platters, and dry roast chicken. But there's another, far more sophisticated food culture finally sprouting through Lancaster's famously fertile earth.
June 7, 2007
To say the Sidecar Bar & Grille is "on a roll" would just trivialize with a cheap pun what chef Rich Freedman and owner Adam Ritter are doing in their gastro-pub near Graduate Hospital in South Philly. Freedman, working in a tiny kitchen, turns out scratch charcuterie - Cajun sausage made of raw pork and pork liver, chorizo, Tasso ham, country pate, and hickory-and-alder-smoked knackwurst. Take the knackwurst, which comes with a salad and homemade sauerkraut. At $9.95, it's not the cheapest sandwich around.
December 17, 2009
The ever-improving Sidecar Bar, a pioneering gastropub in Graduate Hospital, took another step forward this fall with the addition of chef Brian Lofink. Formerly co-chef at Matyson off Rittenhouse Square, Lofink hasn't upscaled Sidecar's inventive bar fare so much as tweaked it with better ingredients. His nachos - usually a dish I dread - were an irresistible example. The gooey jack cheese has been replaced with a genuine Mexican melter - asadero. The salsa, a green tomatillo zinger studded with pineapple, jalapeño, and cilantro, was inspired by Lofink's brief stint with Bobby Flay.
December 30, 2013 |
This was the year of the out-of-towners, as chefs from around the country arrived to make this city their new home. And Philadelphians responded in kind, hungrily embracing these fresh talents. Among the brightest were a pair of stars from New York, Peter Serpico and my Chef of the Year, Eli Kulp, formerly of Torrisi Italian Specialties, who took an already great restaurant in Fork and, with owner Ellen Yin, helped bring it to an even more relevant level. His knack for unexpected combos and rustic techniques (offbeat pastas, fermenting, charcuterie)
June 11, 2009
The big guys are finally catching on that consumers want better-tasting, lower-calorie, higher-fiber alternatives to sandwich bread. Pepperidge Farm offers these 100-calorie flat rolls: good toasted with hummus or grilled for paninis. Available in whole wheat, oatmeal, and seven grain. If you need a beer primer to keep up with the crew at the latest gastropub (and who doesn't in brew-crazy Philly?), turn to a new book from local writer Lynn Hoffman for a tasty draft of advice. The Short Course in Beer (Künati)
May 28, 2009
There is mystery and magnetism to a cheese that won't melt, but instead turns golden and crispy on the griddle. And I've always been drawn to such grillers, like Cypriot haloumi, brandy-flamed Greek saganaki, or smoked Italian scamorza. My new favorite, though, is queso fresco from El Abuelito, a North Jersey producer making Mexican cheese in the Puebla style. Queso fresco is soft, fresh and salty (which prevents oozing under heat), and comes as a compressed cake of grainy curds that resembles a dry ricotta.
June 27, 2014
PICTURE a billboard on I-76 with the slogan, "Philly's more fun when you eat vegan!" Or perhaps, "Philly's veg scene will ring your bell!" That day could be closer than you'd think, as Visit Philadelphia, among other forward-looking big-city tourism agencies, recognizes vegan dining as a draw. Visit Philadelphia CEO and president Meryl Levitz said that while there's no "Love, Philly" campaign targeting vegans, there may be soon. "It's not a fad," she told me in reference to the vegan trend.